by Co’Bella Monroe, BreakOUT! Member Intern, 17 years old
In the middle of July I attended an eye opening and mind sculpting week at the Queer Youth Leading the South (QYLTS) Action Camp. I wanted to see Atlanta in a new way, and at the beautiful campus of Agnes Scott College, I did just that. The QYLTS Action Camp was an open, safe space that encouraged the equal treatment of all people no matter their sexual orientation, gender identity, or the label they answer to. It introduced me to knowledge necessary for me to become a great human rights and equality activist. The people running the camp seemed to be living angels. The camp leaders made me feel so warm and comfortable from the moment I stepped off the bus and was greeted by a gentleman in a speedy red Honda that showed me my first glimpse of Hotlanta to the moment of my emotional departure from my “twin from the stars” roommate.
The camp was filled with open-minded, spirited people and inspirational workshops. In one activity, we made a web out of translucent string that showed how just because you can’t see an obstacle doesn’t mean it can’t stop and oppress you. The event that really showed me how accepting these people were was during a discussion on white supremacy. During the discussion, some people began to feel guilty. This reaction to being called out on historical oppression showed me how responsible these individuals were. Additionally, during one of the seminars, a speaker totally disregarded the camper’s PGP (preferred gender pronoun) and the reaction to this was more proof to me of how strong these people were to stand up to every improper act of intolerance. The workshops also allowed me to focus on things that I was not confident about. For instance, at first I was afraid to be the only transwoman of color in the building but the workshops allowed me to embrace my presence as the only transwoman of color. It made me feel that the dream of all people being treated equally no matter their skin color or sexual orientation or gender identity is not such an untouchable dream.
The workshops at the QYLTS Camp were the most influential workshops of my activist career. The camp allowed me a lot of time to think about the histories of social movements. For me, seeing the Martin Luther King Jr. monumental center in Atlanta was eye-opening. To see great leaders admired and to remember the great pain they went through for their cause makes the minor cuts that I have gained seem so irrelevant. The trip educated me on the Black Freedom Movement so I could see a better way of attaining the dream of equality for the next revolution. The camp gave me the vibe that now it is our turn to lead the new revolution of against oppression. And with a team of great activist workers, I believe as long as QYLTS Camp is around, no one group of people can be harassed for simply being human.
Many thanks to the GSA Network for making this trip possible!